Trent Richardson says he learned more in one season with the Birmingham Iron of the defunct AAF than ever before, is entertaining thoughts of playing in the upstart XFL and hopes to one day play again in the NFL.
But if you want to see Richardson really light up when talking football, ask him about his 6-year-old son, T.J.
“He scored four touchdowns last week, had 170 in rushing and was Player of the Week,” Richardson said. “Last year I let him play when he was 5 with 6-year-olds, so he didn’t get to play with his age. Now he is with his age and he’s killing them out there.”
Richardson, the former standout Alabama and NFL running back, was in Dothan Tuesday night as part of the annual Bama Day event held at the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center.
Like is the case with his son, football became fun again for Richardson this year in the American Alliance of Football before it ceased operations after one season.
“It was beautiful to get an opportunity to play back in the state of Alabama and to score the first touchdown ever in Birmingham Iron history,” Richardson said. “It was big to me to do it right there in Birmingham.”
It was a happy time back on the football field after a not-so-happy time during his years in the NFL.
The third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Richardson looked well on his way to stardom during his first pro season after rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. But when he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts just two games into the 2013 season, things went sour for Richardson.
He played two sub-par seasons with the Colts and was suspended for the final two games of the second season after missing a walk-through practice session without alerting the team for what he called a “family emergency.”
The Colts would waive Richardson in March of 2015 and he signed with the Oakland Raiders, but was released. Richardson next signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 and was waived.
“I was 21 when I went to the league,” Richardson said. “You make mistakes. It wasn’t like I couldn’t play ball.”
Richardson, who entered the NFL Draft after his junior year at Alabama in which he rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns, says he doesn’t have any regrets about his NFL tenure.
“It’s nothing bitter about nothing I have done,” Richardson said. “The experiences I’ve been through –
people don’t realize that when you are young, you make mistakes.
“At the end of the day you’re young – you have to experience life. I think coach (Nick) Saban said something back in 2014, ‘You know like when a guy is 19 and 20 years old making mistakes, what do you do to them? Do you throw them back to his community or the streets, or do you give the guy another chance?’ When it happens, you grow, you learn, you mature.”
After spending a season in the CFL with the Saskakatchewan Roughriders, Richardson stepped away from the game before signing with Birmingham in the new developmental league.
“With the Alliance – just the opportunity – it was big for me,” Richardson said. “It was a lot of fun and more of getting back in the locker room and getting in the groove of things.
“That whole experience was fun, man. Everything I took from it was positive. I actually learned more football than I had in the 26 years of playing football in that little bit of time.”
Richardson said he got involved in all phases of the game while with the Iron.
“I spent more time with the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks,” Richardson said. “They were so efficient on teaching the players the playbook and teaching the players the right way, it had me thinking myself like a quarterback. I knew every position on the field.
“I also spent a lot of time with the linebackers and the defense, too. I learned how they thought, too.”
After the AAF ceased operations in April, Richardson continued training in Birmingham, where the Pensacola, Fla., native now calls home. He is eyeing a possible comeback in the XFL, which is scheduled to begin play in February of 2020. It will be the second try for the XFL, which folded after one season in 2001.
“It’s another opportunity to do some more great stuff and put myself out there,” Richardson said. “The ultimate goal is to get back to the big show (NFL).”
For the time being, however, he’ll be watching his favorite team.
“I watch Alabama football before I watch NFL football,” Richardson said. “For me, if it’s not Alabama on, I’m not really watching it.”